Mon, Jun 01, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Powers agree on Iran ‘snapback’

Reuters, NEW YORK, PARIS, ANKARA and GENEVA, Switzerland

Police officers block the street in front of the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva, Switzerland, on Saturday, where US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif for a new round of talks about Iran’s deal to end sanctions.

Photo: EPA

Six world powers have agreed on a way to restore UN sanctions on Iran if the country breaks the terms of a future nuclear deal, clearing a major obstacle to an accord ahead of a June 30 deadline, Western officials told reporters. Separately, US Secretary of State John Kerry returned to the US after breaking his leg in a bicycling accident, officials said.

The new understanding on a UN sanctions “snapback” among the six powers — the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — brings them closer to a possible deal with Iran, though other hurdles remain, including ensuring UN access to Iranian military sites.

The six powers and Iran struck an interim agreement on April 2 ahead of a possible final deal that would aim to block an Iranian path to a nuclear bomb in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

However, the timing of sanctions relief, access and verification of compliance and a mechanism for restoring sanctions if Iran broke its commitments were among the most difficult topics left for further negotiations.

US and European negotiators want any easing of UN sanctions to be automatically reversible if Tehran violates a deal. Russia and China typically reject automatic measures as undermining their veto power as permanent members of the UN Security Council.

As part of the new agreement, suspected breaches by Iran would be taken up by a dispute resolution panel, likely including the six powers and Iran, which would assess the allegations and come up with a nonbinding opinion, officials said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency would also continue to regularly report on Iran’s nuclear program, which would provide the six powers and the Security Council with information on Tehran’s activities to enable them to assess compliance.

If Iran were found to be in noncompliance with the deal, then UN sanctions would be restored.

The sources did not say how sanctions would be restored, but Western powers have been adamant that it should take place without a Security Council vote, based on provisions to be included in a new UN Security Council resolution to be adopted after a deal is struck.

“We pretty much have a solid agreement between the six on the snapback mechanism, Russians and Chinese included,” a Western official said. “[However,] now the Iranians need to agree.”

A senior Iranian diplomat said Iran was now reviewing several options for the possible “snapback” of Security Council sanctions against Tehran.

Kerry met with Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif in Geneva on Saturday to discuss progress and obstacles to an agreement in the Iran nuclear talks, a US official said.

Kerry cut short a trip to Europe to return to Boston after breaking his right thigh bone yesterday in eastern France.

Kerry fell from his bicycle, apparently after hitting a curb along the roadside near the town of Scionzier, a US Department of State official said on condition of not being further identified.

Kerry, 71, was transported about 40km by medical helicopter to University Hospital in Geneva, where his injury was evaluated.

“Given the injury is near the site of his prior hip surgery, he will return to Boston today to seek treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital with his doctor who did the prior surgery,” department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. “The secretary is stable and never lost consciousness, his injury is not life-threatening, and he is expected to make a full recovery.”

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